Stress is a daily part of all our lives. It is how we manage it that makes the difference between living a healthy productive life or become paralyzed by the never-ending to-do list and emotional roller coasters we ride.
One of the best proven ways to manage stress believe it or not is to sing!
Something happens to us when we sing; a calm, an excitement, an enthusiasm, a flow of energy. You can see the desire for this singing feeling at karaoke bars with the diehards loving life through the songs they sing, listening to your neighbor singing in the shower, watching the man next to you singing in the car, or perhaps you dancing around the living room in your socks singing at the top of your lungs…you don’t have to be a singer to enjoy and crave this singing experience. Singing cures many a bad day, a sad heart, but one of the best things it does specifically is reduce stress. Singing regularly is one of the best forms of stress management.
~What Stress Is ~The Effects Stress has on your Body ~The Science behind Stress Management and Singing ~Steps you can Take Today
What is Stress?
Everyone experiences stress. Stress is the body’s reaction to change, tension, and strain. The body can react to stress physically, mentally, and emotionally. Stress is a normal part of life, but it is how we manage our reaction to the stressors in life that indicate our levels of health and happiness.
Side Effects of Stress
Stress can wreak havoc on the body and mind when not managed correctly, leading to anything from digestive disorders, weight gain/loss, headaches, compromised immune system, adrenal fatigue, chest pain, behavior disorders, and disease. Many people try to mask stress with alcohol or drugs or other numbing stimulus that ignores the issue at hand and increases the amount of stress on the body.
There will always be stress in your life, but how can you learn to deal with that stress in a healthy and healing way?
I have discovered for myself and through my clients that singing is one of the best stress management tools available to pretty much everyone. This is for a couple reasons.
The Science of Why?
Firstly, biologically, singing helps release endorphins, a feel-good brain chemical that helps elevate oxygen levels to the brain and body- reducing stress. Professor Steven Clift, music and health expert helps explain the relationship between singing and stress: ''There's no doubt that singing makes us happy. It's incredibly engaging and we get instant positive feedback. People often report their stress draining away, in fact an accurate interpretation of how it affects us physiologically. Research shows that levels of the stress hormone cortisol decrease when we sing, lowering our heart rate and relaxing us.” [i]
Along with the release of endorphins and cortisol, singing forces us to breathe, and breathe deeply. Breathing deeply and repetitiously actually stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, the lizard brain. When stimulated the nervous system automatically, subconsciously, calms the body. You see the effects of breathing as a stress management tool in yoga, breath work, and many other types of activates and therapies. Singing takes deep breathing one step further, combining two great physical forms of stress management.
Besides the biological effects singing has on the mind and body connection, singing also brings the joy factor into your life. Singing is self-expression; it is fun, in a group or alone in the car. It is hard to be stressed when you are full of joy.
For me personally I witness first hand the effects of singing on my students (and myself) and can watch how throughout the span of a voice lesson, a student visibly show signs of calming, greater focus on the task at hand, and an excitement and joy that builds as the lesson goes on. Music, particularly singing, is a great stress reducer and relaxation method for children experiencing high stress and anxiety. Children who incorporate singing into their lives, experience an increase in focus, confidence, and decrease in stress.
Dr Larry Culliford, a consultant psychiatrist in Brighton, UK, believes that singing works on two levels: by physically encouraging people to breathe and using their whole body in a better way, and by emotionally helping them find creative resources.
“There are hidden reserves of strength and hope, and indeed happiness, that singing somehow spontaneously helps people to find. It may be this is one of the ways in which mind and body are interrelated.” says Dr Culliford. [ii]
How Can You Start Today?
So…what can you do…it's pretty easy...turn up that radio and sing along, start weekly voice lessons, join a community choir…and embrace our human need to sing.
For more info on Sonnet, singing, and vocal lessons Sonnet, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit singingwithsonnet.com